“Don’t Quit” — An Inspiring Poem By Edgar A. Guest


Is there anything more inspiring than poetry?

I’m an early bird – usually up before six. It’s the best part of the day, my mum always says!

I’m not usually much of a TV person, but like everyone else at the moment, I’ve been tuning in to see how things are developing with the coronavirus situation.

One morning recently, just before Breakfast News began at 6am, I heard Idris Elba reading a poem on the BBC.

Poet Edgar A. Guest wrote the inspirational “Don’t Quit” in the 1920s.

It’s a gentle reminder to us all that even the most trying of times will end, and there are sunnier skies ahead.

There’s a “Friend” connection, too! When we were in our Archive, collating poems and stories for our 150th Fiction Special, Edgar A. Guest was a name that appeared time and again throughout our 1950s and 1960s issues.

Here’s a little bit about Edgar from the Fiction Special:

“The poetry in the ‘Friend’ in the Sixties was dominated, as in the late Fifties, by the poems of Edgar A Guest, a prolific writer of verse who was born in Birmingham in 1881 and later moved to Detroit in the USA with his family.

“Guest is estimated to have written over 11,000 poems during his career. The majority offer a sentimental view of ordinary life.

“Appropriately known as ‘The People’s Poet’, he preferred to describe himself simply as ‘a newspaper man who wrote verses’.

“He fitted in well with the liking for traditional themes of friendship, devotion, home and nature in the ‘Friend’.”

You can hear Idris reading the inspiring poem here.

Below we’ve slightly abridged and adapted it.

We hope you enjoy!

“Don’t Quit”

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low but the debts are high,

And you want to smile but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.


Life is strange with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many failures turn about

When we might have won had we stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –

You may succeed with another blow.


Success is failure turned inside out –

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

You can never tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems so far;

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Do you have a poem to submit to “The People’s Friend”? Click here for some advice.

You can also click here for some inspiration.

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Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!